Written evidence submitted by Penny Meade |
The following account is my experience of an Atos
Work Capability Assessment and how it was totally unfit for purpose.
1. I have progressive disease that affects my
skin and my joints (Palmoplantar pustulosis, pustular psoriasis
and psoriatic arthritis).
2. I worked until 2009 when it became impossible
to continue and on the advice of GP and two consultants I stopped
working and made a claim for ESA.
3. The first I knew of an Atos medical was when
I got a letter through demanding I attend for one. The place they
wanted me to go was an hour away by car and as I have mobility
problems and I arranged for my husband to take me.
4. I got a phone call two hours before my appointment
time on the day to inform me they were over booked so would have
to cancel my appointment, I explained that I had made special
arrangements to attend but was told "sorry but that's the
way it is". I got really stressed and upset and my husband
phoned them in disgust and he was told to bring me up and they
would "fit me in".
Centres are inaccessible
5. There was no parking near the building but
I can't walk so we parked illegally.
6. The actual assessment went quite well, I saw
a GP who seemed aware of my condition although she still managed
to get a couple of points wrong ie she wrote I could put my own
shoes on and off even though it was summer and I had slip on sandals
on and explained that I couldn't bend to fasten shoes.
7. She didn't do the WCA as she felt there was
no point, she wrote on my assessment "this condition will
continue to deteriorate and this woman will NOT be able to return
to work at ANY time in the future".
8. So imagine my surprise when I received my
notification that I had been placed in the Work Related Activity
Group and expected to attend the job centre for six interviews!
9. As it stated not to recall me for two years
and no one mentioned the appeal process as a possibility I accepted
10. I made it to two interviews at the jobcentre,
as the meds I was on caused me to get infections the girl at the
jobcentre didn't insist on me attending the other four. She said
it was ludicrous as she couldn't possibly do anything with me,
she only had three options to offer me:
year's subscription to the gym (I am disabled with mobility issues);
college course in basic skills ie reading and writing (I am a
doctor of Psychology!); and
workshop on CV writing etc (no use to me at all).
11. Many of the people she was seeing should
not be in this category but she knew the only way to get in the
Support Group was if you had less than six months to live.
12. My overall impression of ESAhugely
stressful, unnecessary, demeaning, inhumane, waste of time and